They're able to come close, but find a way to do just enough to come away empty handed.
This has the repetitive pattern for the Clemson Tigers for the last few weeks. First, the emotional 27-24 overtime loss at Auburn, followed by an atrocious 30-21 loss to the Miami (FL) Hurricanes in Death Valley. And now, add to the list the Tigers low scoring 21-16 loss against the UNC Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. It seems that Clemson just can't shake off the fourth quarter bug.
Now, Clemson is to head home to a surely deflated Death Valley to face an improved Maryland team at noon. Maryland has had Clemson's number the last few years, winning the last three games by a margin of three points or less. Maryland is also atop the ACC for first place in the Atlantic Division.
The week of the UNC game, changes were made immediately after the passing game struggled against Miami. The trio of redshirt freshman Bryce McNeal, true freshman Deandre Hopkins, and sophomore Jaron Brown have replaced the veterans of Xavier Dye, Brandon Clear, and Terrance Ashe as the starters at wide receiver.
The changes at the position were a bold move by Swinney, who has decided to move on and introduce the new era of Clemson receivers. The young cast, especially Hopkins, certainly looked better, but their performance was not enough to lift Clemson to a win Saturday. Now, more changes are soon to come.
The first of these changes are sure to be a fan favorite: Andre Ellington is to receive more carries over Harper, which is not to be a bad thing at all.
Ellington is Clemson's most explosive player on offense, evidenced by his seven touchdowns and 435 rushing yards. He has an excellent first step, and finds and hits the hole with authority. The carries have been split between Ellington and Harper, but Harper has been inconsistent as of late as an in between the tackles running back.
The change for Ellington to have more touches can allow the offense to better get into a rhythm, which they sorely lacked against UNC, despite some of the answers they are beginning to find at wide receiver. This may allow Jamie fewer touches, but allows for him to utilize his soft hands out of the backfield on passing situations.
There still remain questions at linebacker. They played better than they have against UNC, but still struggled in stopping several big plays that UNC was able to make. The defensive line played their best on Saturday, and Daquan Bowers' emergence on Saturday shows good signs of the line.
The linebackers must find a better way to stop the run on the edge and later in the game; they began to crumble later in the game as Johnny White gashed them on their critical scoring drive late in the fourth quarter.
With a disappointing 2-3 record, and the losses by a combined 17 points, Clemson must get in gear and avenge Maryland on Saturday. If they fall, so does any chance of winning the ACC Championship.
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